Internet Summit 2018 London Review

by | Jun 20, 2018 | Business

Internet Summit 2018 London

When Cosmik Carrot was invited to attend the first Internet Summit in London on the 14th June, there was only one thing we had to say to be there, “Yes please!”.

It was an amazing day out of the office, with a broad set of topics about the internet, and it even featured a real life ‘James Bond’. More about that later.

The first time event held in London by the hosts Cloudflare was held at the Tobacco Dock. Previous Internet Summit’s have been held in San Francisco at its headquarters.

The venue of the Tobacco Dock was a fantastic venue for the day’s events. As the historical merchant boat was docked outside the front, it was a perfect setting for the modern Day merchant sailors not on the seas, but of the global Internet web based world we live in.

After a well organised registration and meet and greet, the day kicked off with Mathew Prince Co-Founder & CEO, Cloudflare to give us a welcome. The summit was already a huge hit, as the turnout was far greater than they had anticipated.

Sir David Omand – ‘The Ethics of Secret Intelligence’

The first guest of the day was Sir David Omand GCB, Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London. His chat with Mathew Prince was about ‘The Ethics of Secret Intelligence’. Some of the highlights were about bringing in new laws that technology has to commit to universally across the globe, so the rule of law is above tech.

He also mentioned about ‘Code of conduct for coders in AI’, and also how there should be a ‘backdoor’ into technologies. His ‘backdoor’ suggestion was a very controversial comment to a tech community that thrives on security being in the highest regard. This was a recurring theme throughout the day.

This was also a hot topic for the day, as Apple had just announced that they are changing their security settings to stop any potential ‘backdoor’ entries into their iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, & Apple Watch).

Apple to block popular police method for breaking into iPhones.

Samm Sacks – ‘China & the Internet: Looking In & Looking Out’

The next chat was about ‘China & the Internet: Looking In & Looking Out’ with

Samm Sacks, Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Program, CSIS with Chris Merritt, Chief Revenue Officer, Cloudflare asking the questions.

Samm explained to us the reality of how the Chinese Internet works with its huge firewall around the country.

She says it’s best to see the Chinese Internet as two channels.

One channel is for the huge government surveillance that takes place. Along with the surveillance, the government also has control of what content from the West can be viewed on their internet.

The other channel comprises of an amazing futuristic fin-tech economy. Samm says that within the major cities of China they are now living in a cashless society. Apparently, if you attempt to pay with a Yen note, you will get a very odd look, instead of paying with a mobile. The fin-tech apps in China are far more complex with the equivalent of five quality apps here in the West, all rolled into one app over in China.

She gave an example of how a friend was able to go on her phone and get a service for someone to wait inline at their favourite ice cream shop that was 45 mins away, get their ice cream, and then have it delivered to them at their location. It sound very much like Deliveroo 3.0.

Samm Sacks also touched on how GDPR was taken quite seriously in China, and how the Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed for a National cyber law in a similar vein of the European Union’s GDPR.

She thinks we’re starting to see the E.U., China, and the USA all starting to bring together a national cyber law in its infancy with similar rules and governance from all three entities.

Samm has just had an article published on The Atlantic that resonates with her talk – Beijing Wants to Rewrite the Rules of the Internet

Jeremy Johnson & Nnenna Nwakanma – ‘Open Data, Open Government, & Open Source in Africa’

The next chat was with the moderator Alissa Starzak, Head of Policy, Cloudflare who was joined by Nnenna Nwakanma, Senior Policy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation, and Jeremy Johnson, Co-Founder & CEO, Andela. They were there to discuss ‘Open Data, Open Government, & Open Source in Africa’.

This was a fascinating discussion to understand the internet poverty that currently exists in Africa.

  • There is currently still only one internet provider for the whole of Ethiopia.
  • For 1GB of data it can cost up to 10% of someone’s monthly income.
  • Yet, the biggest bank is now a mobile only bank.

With nations across Africa with illiteracy as a high as 50% in the populations, and 45% unemployment, and a population explosion under the age of 20, there is a huge opportunity for new growth across the continent.

Jeremy Johnson has already seen this opportunity, and is helping young people to code through his company ‘Andela’ in three countries. They are giving young people the same opportunity’s as others in the rest of the world.

The simplest fact  that the internet remains a place that is not determined by its location, is still the greatest benefit of the internet. It still provides anyone with an Internet connection the same opportunity’s regardless of whether their country is in a first or third world economy.

Nnenna highlighted to the Internet summit crowd that Africa’s digital economy will be within the next 20 years. This was a great pitch to potential investors out there, and to get in there now.

She also highlighted that every country and city in Africa has its own challenges. A lot of the cities are still run on generators, which highlights the third world living standards. Yet, in a market out in the bush, you can make a payment for some cloth at a market with your phone. In remote areas, one individual has a digital account who then distributes payments to those on the market who have made sales.

Raffi Krikorian & Alex Macgillivray – ‘How Tech Can Be a Driving Force for Democracy’

The afternoon was kicked off again with Matthew Prince for the session about ‘How Tech Can Be a Driving Force for Democracy’ with the two guest speakers Raffi Krikorian, CTO, Democratic National Committee, and Alex Macgillivray, Former Deputy US CTO

Both speakers were ex-employees of Twitter, and both were connected with the Democrat party in the USA. Alex Macgillivray was a former deputy US CTO under President Obama, where as Raffi Krikorian is now the current Chief Technology Officer for the Democratic National Committee.

President Obama’s campaign was the first political election campaign to have a huge online presence, and to be very successful over two elected terms in office.

Raffi, had said that the DNC had got complacent during the 2016 election, and underestimated the Republicans huge technology drive and spend of around $175 million. This investment by the republicans paid off in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump.

The DNC have now reinvested in their technology for future elections.

A question from Matthew Prince highlighted, ‘is ‘tech’ affecting politics?’ In short, both Alex and a Raffi felt that tech it wasn’t affecting politics, and it was just the new way of canvassing like door knocking, or phoning voters.

Personally, tech is obviously affecting politics in the way political messages are being distributed, and received across the internet. I think Alex and Raffi was highlighting that it is still someone’s own political mindset that determines how they will vote.

We were also informed that there is currently a surge of political apps in the market that are pitching to electoral parties to increase their chances of winning elections. I think this clearly demonstrates how tech is hoping to affect politics for the better.

Sydney Padua & Doron Swade – ‘How History Informs Today: Babbage, Turing, Lovelace, & the Discovery of Computation’

Next was an insightful chat about ‘How History Informs Today: Babbage, Turing, Lovelace, & the Discovery of Computation’ with Historian of Computing Doron Swade, and Cartoonist & Visual Effects Artist Sydney Padua. Sydney is the illustrator and writer of several steampunk comic books about Babbage including; ‘The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer’.

As questions were asked by John Graham-Cumming, Sydney was doing a live drawing that we could see coming together on screen of Babbage and Lovelace.

It’s well regarded that Charles Babbage started the era of computation in history, even though it wasn’t used for a functional method until Alan Turing and the code breakers during the Second World War.

Karen Renaud & John Moor – ‘Why Does Everything Get Hacked?’

The next session was about ‘Why Does Everything Get Hacked?’ with Karen Renaud, Chair of Cybersecurity, Abertay University, and John Moor, Managing Director, IoT Security Foundation.

As Chris Merritt started by asking what does IoT stand for? John Moor explained to us that IoT stands for ‘Internet of things’ or treats for the future. Things being cars, home appliances, other objects not normally connected to the internet.

It is due to this new connectivity with the internet that could potentially mean a major issue, if the particular device was hacked.

Karen Renaud mentioned the NHS computer hack that hit the news headlines earlier in the year. This was the ‘Wannacry’ malware that was invented by the NSA National Security Agency, and was only used as a malware tool due to a backdoor entry.

This was quite poignant, as it was reiterated that a backdoor entry is a really bad idea, despite Sir David Omand suggesting otherwise first thing in the morning.

Apparently, the reason a lot of MRI appointments were cancelled was due to the latest software not being compatible with the upgraded software and couldn’t patch. However the MRI machine ports were still open and connected to the internet, and this is why they were exposed to the NHS hack.

Some of the reasons discussed for hacking were;

  • Money motivation
  • Political motivation
  • No deterrent with prosecution
  • Ease of hacking

It was reminded to the Internet Summit attendees that the easiest way to avoid being hacked, was to have a decent password manager to store strong passwords.

A great password manager that we recommend is LastPass.

John Moor mentioned that with the increase of Hyper connectivity with more and more devices, it will only mean an increase in hacking attempts in the future.

More of a reason to ensure everyone is strong passwords on all devices with a password manager like LastPass.

Kelsey Hightower – ‘Kubernetes & the Serverless Future’

Kelsey Hightower was up next as a Staff Developer Advocate for the Google Cloud Platform, to talk about ‘Kubernetes & the Serverless Future’.

John Graham-Cumming kicked off the chat by asking Kelsey for an explanation of his role with Google. Kelsey joked in not understanding the title of ‘Staff Developer Advocate’. Basically, his role is to promote the Google cloud platform with other service providers and build on those applications.

Kubernetes is an open-source container-orchestration system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerised applications. It was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Check out – https://kubernetes.io

Kelsey explained that Kubernetes is fundamentally event driven for a serverless future. Kubernetes is also the best thing an administrator could do, which is why IBM have linked up with Kubernetes to provide the growth for their scaled up applications.

Andrew Gould & Ollie Whitehouse – ‘Getting Governments & the Public to Take Cybercrime Seriously’

The darker side of the internet and the real world that we live in, was then discussed in ‘Getting Governments & the Public to Take Cybercrime Seriously’, which included Detective Superintendent Andrew Gould, National Cybercrime Programme Lead, National Police Chiefs’ Council, as well as Ollie Whitehouse, CTO, NCC Group.

The moderator Alissa Starzak asked where cybercrime currently is, as Andrew Gould was representing the public sector, and Ollie Whitehouse from the private sector. They both clearly said there was a considerable increase in cybercrime. They were finding it was more small gangs that were targeting banks and companies for ransom money while they held their data hostage. The days of a single teenager hacking in a bedroom is fairly remote.

Andrew Gould commented that basic policing still works with hi-tech gangs as they are human and leave evidence behind for them to be prosecuted.

Ollie Whitehouse commented on the hot topic of the day and agreed that engineering backdoors is a bad idea.

Andrew Gould said he could see it from both sides, however he felt that we can’t let people hide behind tech when they have committed crimes, and that we have to find a way of allowing the law to still apply. As a society we need to make a decision to be able to prosecute.

James Allworth & Michelle Kennedy – ‘Social Media Isn’t All Bad’

‘Social Media Isn’t All Bad’ was the next chat with Michelle Kennedy, Co-Founder & CEO, Peanut, and James Allworth, CMO, Zenrez. Jen Taylor who was moderating started by asking, “Is social media all bad?”

Michelle Kennedy gave a good positive side for social media, by highlighting all the connections that she’s managed to gain through various social media platforms. One being her own Peanut app for mothers that she created.

James Allworth gave a very frank and negative view on social media, and highlighted all the negative things that have happened over the years, and questioned ‘has Facebook made a positive mark on the world?’. His opinion was that he felt social media has brought the worst out in humans in an amplified manner. He did also recognise the positive connections that he has made through Twitter, and his own podcast show.

James noted that people still want to put themselves into groups, and read content that only appeals to them to confirm their beliefs. However, Michelle noted that social media is no different than in real life, as people still choose who they want to be friends with, and what newspapers they read, or what they choose to watch. So is it really a surprise that the real world has transferred on to the Social Media space, in exactly the same manner.

Growth in certain new fin-tech sectors are directly from social peel offs from previous sites. For example that AirBnB is a direct spin off from the growth that was Craig’s List.

With the recent announcement from Apple that they will be bringing a screen time usage app for all its iOS devices, Michelle commented that we should start to see people get more control of how much social media they partake in. James said, this should start to slow down this ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) culture which drives social media usage.

Tanja Lange & Karthik Bhargavan – ‘How to Prove that a Computer System is Secure’

The moderator John Graham-Cumming returned with the next session about ‘How to Prove that a Computer System is Secure’. This was with the two world renowned cryptographers Karthik Bhargavan, Researcher, Inria, and Tanja Lange, Professor of Cryptology, Eindhoven University of Technology.

A cryptographer is a modern high tech mathematician that analyse and decipher encrypted data to assist law enforcement or government agencies in solving crime, threats or security concerns. They also develop computational models that help solve problems in business, engineering, science, or other industries.

Tanja was quick to get to the hot topic of the day, and confirmed that backdoor engineering should not be used. She said “it is either secure, or its not”.

The big talk was the future about the quantum computer and how Quantum keys will change. Tanja, highlighted that all cloud backups that would not be secure with a quantum key, and would therefore be unsecured on a huge scale globally.

Karthik commented that Firefox is currently running a crypto library, but to be cautious with which keys you are using.

Sir John Scarlett – ‘View of Cyber Threats at a National Level’

The last chat of the day was with none other than a real life James Bond for most of his career. This was Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE, Former Chief, MI6. His conversation with moderator Matthew Prince was about his ‘View of Cyber Threats at a National Level’.

Sir John Scarlett was first asked about his connections with Bletchley Park. He commented about how it existed for about 30 years during the second world war without anyone knowing about it, until the seventies. He is now Chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust, and recommended everyone to visit. Its significance during the War is incredible, as without the computation of deciphering intelligence, then history may have been a different story.

Mathew got a stereotypical joke in and asked if a knife was going to pop out of his shoe, and asked what Sir John’s thoughts were about his favourite James Bond. Sir John commented that he was deeply proud of his service, and the people that work for the service, but the reality is as much as he enjoyed the Bond franchise films, they are just not an accurate representation of the reality of MI6.

Sir John’s service with MI6 was predominately in Moscow, where his second time in Moscow coincided with the end of the USSR and the Soviet Union. He said at the time it came as a complete shock to everyone, and that the humility with the Russian people has lingered on for a long time to this day. This is key to understanding the history with the Russian federation and any actions they have today and for the future.

The main job of understanding intelligence, is by understanding people. This was most evident during the Cold War when Sir John recounted the moment he heard about a possible Nuclear strike launch from the USSR. No computer back then would have picked up that information, and not even today. Having channels remained open with relationships between other nations is the key to better intelligence for a peaceful world.

Sir John commented that the fact that President Putin was previously a KGB agent, is not a big deal, and is over amplified as a big red herring, as there were thousands of KGB agents back under the USSR.

Sir John Scarlett was careful in not to say whether Russia had influenced or interfered previous foreign elections. He said it was ‘very difficult to relate cause and effect of Russia’. He did state that still the number one job of government first of all, is security of its people. Scarlett has advised previous Governments about how good defence is key, instead of complaining of being attacked. This is why investment has to remain into defence for the future.

The fascinating talk with Sir John Scarlett could have carried on for hours, but this actually brought the Internet Summit to a close. In what was a fantastic broad set of topics around the Internet, the return of the Internet Summit in 2019 cannot come sooner. Bring on Internet Summit 2019!

You can watch all the videos of each talk here on Cloudflare’s Internet Summit 2018 London.

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